“On Target”: Precision & Balance in the Contemporary Law of Targeting

Schmitt and Widmar explore the law of targeting within international humanitarian law (IHL) and its application to international and non-international armed conflict. The article examines the “five elements” of a target operation, including the target, the weapon used, the execution of the attack, possible collateral damage and incidental injury, and location of the strike. The authors suggest that a better understanding of these norms can help international lawyers, policymakers, and operators avoid violations of international law by creating appropriate and well-known boundaries for targeting operations.

Lead Author

Michael N. Schmitt
Professor of International Law, University of Reading; Francis Lieber Distinguished Scholar, West Point; Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar and Visiting Professor of Law, University of Texas; Charles H. Stockton Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, U.S. Naval War College.
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  1. Well written and addresses an issue that warrants further discussion. War has moved from the battlefield into neighborhoods. As the authors pointed out, the innocent have become casualties of war. Even more so, the innocent are being put to use as human-shields. Thank you for zeroing-in on the ever moving target of the Rules of Engagement.

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